A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Back to Meetings.

Been a long time since I have set any sort of targets and even then they are little ones, but have been forced into one as my creels are getting extremely dirty. So nine fleets ashore, washed, cleaned and back out in three weeks is a tall order as everything else is full steam ahead. The hours at the Inn have upped and the politics of the locale are showing no sign of diminishing. There is the small matter of keeping the langoustine on the menu board. The squat lobsters are not coming ashore in big enough quantities and are sold with the turbot, halibut and cod, but not on their own as starters. Saturday and Sunday at the Inn were full as usual and with the second wave of customers meaning fairly late shifts in the kitchen. Nothing we can do out front as the weather is still against us and everyone is eating inside. Great atmosphere and lots of helpful and appreciative customers. Offering tables and moving to smaller ones as well as happily sharing.

Sunday, being a long thirteen hour shift, cup of tea and a caramel shortcake before going into the evening shift, meant although I got up early enough on Monday to go fishing I ended back in bed for another hour to get the necessary energy together for the sea trip. Managed 250 creels up and again a reasonable catch to take to the Inn. Been a good year with very little gaps in the landings resulting in langoustine being available at the Inn 95% of the time. Main feature of Monday was the weather and the rain.

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Startling in its intensity although did not see any of the lightning that erupted across the Highlands. Just me, the fulmars

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and the bonxies

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in the rain. There was the very occasional traffic passing close by.

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Yet another fish farm heading west.

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One wonders when saturation point will come or will it be overdone , a little like the fishing. Landed a rather large prawn as it would not fit into the tube.

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Evening we went out to the Walled Garden for a fine soup and homemade burger while the rain still came down.

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When we left this was the path to the left.

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Talking of the fishing a few of us went south to Fort William to meet up with Marine Scotland, mainly about the BUTEC expansion plans and what to do about them. It has been very hard to get any information out of them which is strange as we have been promised a full consultation about the future plans on the Inner Sound. Rumours abound and some fishermen have been selected to meet with Qinetic and or the MoD and they come away with little information. The frequently asked question “Will we be able to fish there?” is answered we cannot tell you that. There is a deliberate policy not to engage with the local Fishermen’s Associations. At least we have the support of Marine Scotland in trying to find out what is going on and I am “gate crashing” a meeting in Kyle on Friday. There must be a better way to engage with marine users than this but I suppose the MoD are just that the MoD and are pretty much unaccountable, certainly locally. Good range of fishing and political chat both there and on the journeys and felt it was not a wasted but very productive. Lots of talk about the prospect of setting up local fisheries with a permit system which would limit entry into an area preventing over exploiting a resource and it was pointed out how the markets are affecting the inshore trawler fleet with some boats tying up as they cannot find a market for their prawns. The quality leaves a lot to be desired and when the creel caught langoustine are plentiful the buyers are not keen on buying the trawl product. I am sure this is short-term but it is hard times for the export trade at the moment with the Euro hovering around the 72p mark which is almost a loss of 20% on the year. That with the ongoing immigration problems at Calais is not making it easy. Interesting chat from fishermen who had been on the trawl before seeing the light and going to the creels. It was regarding the netfulls of spur dogs they were catching while trawling for prawns off the south end of Skye, going to show why there is little of any dogs left to catch now. Maybe it was not the liners that caught the dogs. And trying to land them at Mallaig finding the market full and getting so little for them. The numbers of draggers in Mallaig and Kyle are down to approximately a fifth of the fleet when the grounds were opened to the trawl. There are reports of more fish around than has been seen for quite a few years, maybe the science is too simple to make a correlation to these two facts.

Straight to work from the meeting and busy enough but not too busy to take 40 mins off to attend the CC AGM and an ordinary meeting. Decided to ask the MoD/Qinetic what was happening regarding the Range expansion. Little bit off that they have not got in touch with the Applecross boats. No one turned out for the AGM. Can be read in two ways, no one is interested or every one is happy, take your pick but it may also be a sad reflection on local democracy in Scotland with the Community Councils at the lowest level having little or no influence in the local communities they are supposed to represent. So back to the Inn and an easier night and this continued this evening which was just as well as I am trying to meet this wee target of creel washing. On course by taking a fleet off and putting clean creels on board and then going home for Dougal and Eilidh and washing the new set of creels.

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They love the run down the road and go rodent hunting while I wash the creels. We are entertaining, if that is the right way of putting it, the editor of the Scottish Woman magazine and her mate, at the Inn. Ab Fab springs to mind. When they first blew in on Tuesday evening I did think it was a bit of a put on but it seems not.

Comments on: "Back to Meetings." (4)

  1. Challenging times Ali. The minimalist approach by the MoD is ‘telling’!!

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      Its a tricky one as the local boys are Qinetic and their employers are MoD and one can mix and mismatch against each other. The fall guys will be the fishermen I suspect, but we will see.

  2. Duncan Maclauchlan said:

    Just watched Landward Prawn Wars and realizing my ignorance of the industry and complexity of all factors. I guessing a lot of flexibility required all round so never easy to strike or get everyone to adhere to balances. Whilst I work for you know who has its frustrations, I hope I will always be thankful for knowing there is a cheque at end of each month. Hope never lose sight or appreciation for how tough your industry is. Much kudos to you and yours.

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      You keep the head for one as there is so much that you cannot control. Weather, catch, politics and now the MoD. Meeting in Kyle was as much as expected. Fairly pleasant but not a lot of info. We all have opinion that what the MoD wants the MoD gets and I suspect that it is a done deal. All the planning and work has not gone ahead to be stopped or modified by a few local fishermen. Going back to the prawn wars, if the trawl was successful there would be a lot more trawlers, but they are declining as they are uneconomic. Says it all.

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